Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, thankful, Trials

One Thing I Know

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Momma always knew best.  I was blessed to have a good Momma and Daddy.  They were everyday people but in so many ways they were anything but every day.  Willing to take on the task of raising eight children, they gave up a lot for us.  Daddy worked hard as a jet engine mechanic and Momma mostly stayed home and took care of us.  Momma was always there when we needed her.  I remember one time I was sick with a stomach virus.  It was the middle of the night and Momma sat down in an old wooden rocker we had and then invited me up into her lap.  There she gently held me.  It didn’t do much to ease my unhappy stomach, but it sure made my heart feel better.

Momma had her own brand of medicine.  As best as I can remember, Momma was a big believer in “family herd immunity.”  In case you are not familiar with that, it is where a certain illness is almost intentionally shared with members of the family, especially siblings. I guess Momma thought it was best to get it all over with at one time.  And it seemed to work.  I remember one of my sisters came down with the measles.  Rather than isolate her from my sister and I, Momma just put us all together in the double bed in the spare bedroom and waited.  Sure enough, we all promptly got the measles and we also all got well about the same time.  I’m not sure modern medicine would approve, but that’s ok.  It worked for us, and Momma was always there to help us get better.

However, Momma didn’t always use herd immunity.  When I was about nine, there was a pretty serious flu outbreak in our north Florida city.  I really don’t remember too much about it.  I also don’t remember if I became a patient or not.  But there is one thing I do remember—I knew what we had in our family wasn’t good and I felt I needed to do something—so I did.  I found a piece of paper and a pencil, and I made a sign warning other people to stay away.  The sign said something like this, “Warning.  We have the FLEW.  Don’t come in.” Even if my spelling wasn’t the best, it still got the message out.

When I was in the second grade, Momma’s brand of herd immunity took on a different look.  My sister Kathy was not feeling well so Momma took her to the doctor, and I tagged along.  Dr. Smothers was our ears, nose, and throat doctor.  He checked my sister out and it was determined that she had tonsillitis.  That was something a lot of kids back then seemed to get. Well, Dr. Smothers suggested to Momma that perhaps it was time for my sister to get her tonsils out.  Again, back then that was the standard treatment.  So, Momma agreed and then said to Dr. Smothers, “Why don’t we take Dewayne’s out too?”  Hmmmm.  Herd immunity strikes again. So, the doctor says, “Well, Dewayne, what do you say?  Would you like to get your tonsils out too?”  Now I had no clue what in the world he was talking about.  But I think he said something about all the ice cream you wanted, and I was in.  A few days later I found myself in the hospital with my sister and the world’s worst sore throat.  I’m still not sure if that ice cream was worth it!

I’m sure there are many more stories about Momma’s medical skills and judgement, but they have slipped from my memories.  But let me tell you one thing that hasn’t slipped away, that is the concrete knowledge that my Momma loved me.  Whether it was the measles, the flu, or getting rid of some pesky tonsils, Momma always did what she thought was best for us.  Some people probably wouldn’t agree with her medical practices, but I know everything she did was for our good.  For my good.

And do you know what?  I think that is just another way my Momma was like God.  You see, God is constantly working in my life for my good and His glory.  I mean He is working out His purposes but at the center, at the core of it all is—my good.  The Bible verse that is so poplar is so true.  It goes like this, “all things work together for good, for those who love God, the ones who are called according to His purpose.”  Like I have said so many times that doesn’t mean that everything is good, but that God can bring good from all things.  I know Momma loved me a lot but even her love must pale to the love that God has for me—for us.

Now I am certain if you asked me in the middle of encounter with measles, that truth might have been a little clouded.  If you asked me after the surgery to remove my tonsils, well, I probably would have doubted it.  But in the long run, looking back—well, my Momma loved me and did her best to show that love.  So, today if you bump into a hot mess—today if things go south and it is hard…maybe real hard—just remember how much God loves you.  You can take it to the bank—it is a sure bet.  When life leaves you hurting worse than a bad stomachache, you just crawl up in His lap and let His strong arms ease the pain away.  Then, just nod off and take a nap.  You can safely do that because, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Scripture, Grace, life, Family, thankful, gratitude, prayer, sovereignty of God, Trials, friends

Rainy Days

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

It was just another love note. It seems this love note thing happens all the time.  A love note is when there is something, a crisis, a life bump or just something we need a little help with and well, Calvary shows up.  I always think it is God’s way of helping me out.  He knows and He cares.  It happened several weeks ago again.  First, it had been dry and overnight God turned on the faucet and sent several inches of rain.  We so needed it.  The farmers needed it, the gardeners needed and the people who find some twisted joy in mowing grass needed it.  And it came in abundance.

So God has blessed us with a really great home.  We like older homes and this one qualifies in anyone’s book.  Best we can tell the core of the house was built in 1898 with a couple of additions added by a couple of brothers after World War II.  The house is brick (part of the post-World War II renovation) and has some great 1940’s trim work inside.  Like I said, we are blessed.  But there is one thing I wish we didn’t have and that is a wet basement.  When it rains a lot quickly, we get water in our basement. Fortunately we have a good drain so it usually runs across the floor and into the drain and it is no more than an annoyance.  That is…until it is not.

Well, the morning of the big rain, Judy came and got me and told me we had a shallow swimming pool in the basement.  This produced a groan and a moan.  Before I even saw the Red Sea that had gathered in my basement I was thinking plumbers and dollar signs.  What if the drain pipe had collapsed? What if they had to dig up the yard? What if I had to sell my first born to pay for all of this?  It was the old “Lions, tigers and bears, oh my” reaction which is pretty typical for me when I hear there is a small sea in my basement.

So, I followed her down and sure enough there was about three or four feet (just kidding) of water in my basement.  I told her I would call the plumber after a while and see what needed to be done.  Then…I had a thought.  I decided I would go over to the drain and see if the problem was there.  So I put on my scuba gear and got my shark repellant and headed over to the drain. There is a strainer over the drain and the first thing I did was remove that.  When I looked it was indeed pretty clogged up and when I removed it the water did begin to drain…some.

It was time for phase two.  I stuck my finger down into the drain hole and immediately a giant anaconda grabbed my finger…no just kidding.  What I did find was a piece of wire that had either got under or through the cover or broken off of something in the drain and it was covered with slimy stuff.  I pulled that out and bam…the water started draining faster…fast enough to make that little tornado thing that happens when water is draining good. Soon, the water was gone and I was smiling again.

I was thanking God, and Judy, my wife, was thanking God because we both knew that He had acted on our behalf.  You see, our default reaction these days is no matter how routine, no matter how everyday—we are learning to thank God and give Him the glory.  And do you know what?  We do it because we believe it.  We just believe that from the smallest to the biggest it is God acting on our behalf.  We just refuse to believe things are circumstance and happenstance. We believe in a God who is into the details. Now all that doesn’t mean that things always turn up roses.  No, we have our share of dandelions too, but we are learning to thank God for those too because He can and does turn dandelions into daisies.

A verse I quote a lot and that holds a lot of value in my world is found in a letter Paul wrote to the Romans about 2,000 years ago.  It was true then and it is true now.  It says that God can cause good to come out of any circumstances…for those who trust and believe in Him.  It doesn’t mean that He snaps His finger, and everything is good but that He can bring good from everything.  So, as you bump along life’s path and you have a flat tire on a rainy Monday or a basement full of water, just remember, no matter the outcome…God loves you and cares about you.  Before you call the plumber, talk to Him.  You may still have to call the plumber, but you can have the assurance that, “He’s got this.”  Oh, and by the way, if my house is up for sale and you are thinking about buying it…forget what I about the basement. Smile. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, Grace, gratitude, life, love, loving others, Military memories, prayer, priorities, Scripture, Southern born, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Daddy’s Heart Attack

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Thanks, Dad…for the heart attack. It was back in 1976, June 26th to be specific, that I married Judy Allen.  She was a Georgia peach that was quite the catch.  I met her when I walked into a strange, new church on a Wednesday night. I entered the side door and boom—there she was.  Standing in a circle of ordinary young ladies, this young lady was anything but.  Then, there was a phone call, a date and well, here we are forty-six years…she is still quite the catch, we are still in love, and we are still grateful for a God who has a plan.

I was talking with Judy the other day and said, “What if we had never met?” I honestly cannot fathom my life without her…but what if?  It was really a strange set of circumstances that got us together.  I was in the Air Force and my Daddy had a pretty major heart attack while I was home on leave.  It sure changed our Christmas plans, but it also changed my life.  My Momma, and don’t ask me how since this was way before the internet and smart phones, found out through the Red Cross that the Air Force would sometimes grant a “humanitarian reassignment” to airmen to the base nearest their home.  The conditions were strict, and the odds were long, but we (Momma and I) decided we should give it a shot.

It required all kinds of statements from the doctors and a bunch of other stuff that I don’t even remember.  At the time I was stationed at Minot AFB in North Dakota and trust me that is a long way from home.  Anyway, we applied and then one day I received a call from Base Personnel letting me know that my request had been approved and I was being reassigned to Moody AFB in Valdosta, Georgia. Soon, it was so long Minot and hello Moody.  I arrived at my new base in April of 1973.  I would drive home every weekend (about two hours) to see family and friends and come back Sunday evening.

Gratefully, God allowed my Daddy to live till midsummer of the next year when He decided heaven was better than here.  Of course, his leaving changed everything. I think my Momma went to stay with one of my brothers or sisters for a while and suddenly there wasn’t as much reason to go home.  I was a regular church goer, but it really wasn’t my desire to go to church that Wednesday night as much as it was…boredom.  Valdosta wasn’t a big town and Moody wasn’t a big airbase, so I just needed something to do.  And, as they say, the rest is history.

Which leads to my opening line…Daddy’s heart attack.  If it hadn’t had been for that and my Momma’s persistence, well, I would have stayed in Minot and probably froze to death. Smile. I would have never met Judy, there would not have been our three precious daughters and hence no eight grandchildren.  And, honestly, I probably wouldn’t be pastoring and wouldn’t be writing this today.  But God is a God of infinite details and design.  He tells us in the Bible that every day of our lives is planned before a single one of them is lived.  I like that…a lot.

He also teaches us that for those who love Him and are called by Him, He can take anything and everything and bring good out of it.  No, not everything is good…not even close and that isn’t what He said.  He said He can bring good and in the case of my Daddy’s heart attack, my life path is part of that good.  Have you ever thought of life that way?  Can you think of a situation where God did that for you?  I bet you can. You see, God is good, God is faithful, and God can be trusted.

One day I will see my Daddy again…in heaven.  I’ll probably chat with him and ask if he ever thought about the good that God brought about because of his heart attack.  And then, well, I’ll tell him all about Judy (if she isn’t there yet) and his great grandkids.  It’s gonna be a great reunion.  Till then, I hope I remember to trust my heavenly Dearest Daddy each day, and know that no matter what, no matter how big…He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, friends, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials

Boom, Crash, Ouch!

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” Romans 8:28

Well, it happened again.  It was Saturday evening and it had been a good day.  I was able to get a lot of yard work done including mowing my yard.  I found out, though, that I had violated a cardinal rule. In Southern Illinois you never, and I mean never, mow the yard before the first of April.  My neighbor and some guys at church told me all about it. Oops.  Anyway, it was a good day.  Later that afternoon my wife Judy and I went to eat at our favorite local restaurant and came home to study and prepare for Sunday.

As I entered the kitchen, I saw a box of tools that I had been using for various inside projects.  My wife Judy had asked me earlier if was done with them and I said yes.  That was code for “Hey, get your tools out of my kitchen and back in the garage.”  Got it…it just took a while.  So, seeing the box of tools, I picked them up and carried them to the garage.  I could feel Judy smiling.  While I was in the garage, I saw a bottle of algae killer which reminded me that our little goldfish pond had looked more than a little green earlier in the day.  I grabbed the bottle, went out to the pond, and gave it a dose. Check.

So, I went back to the garage, put the algae stuff back on my work bench and was headed back into the house when I saw it.  It was the net that I use to get floating stuff out of the pond.  Well, having just visited the pond I knew there was plenty of stuff floating in the water, so I grabbed the net and headed back to the pond.  I should have quit while I was ahead.  As I bounded up the single step from my driveway and onto the patio, I caught my toe on the edge of the concrete and fell…hard…real hard.

Part of this happened at hyper-speed and part of it happened in slow motion.  The falling part of fast but it all seemed to slow down as I watched my extended fingers and hand hit the concrete and bend in the direction they were never meant to go.  It wasn’t pretty.  I was stunned and I was hurting.  Remember the commercial for the lady who falls and says, “Help, I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up.”?  Well, that was me.  My hand wouldn’t work, and my body just hurt.  After several minutes I rolled around and managed to sit up and then get up.

I made it into the house and told Judy I had fallen, hard. Amazingly, most of my body still worked but my hand didn’t fare so well. I will spare you all the details, but the good news is that nothing was broken and none of the tendons were torn.  They were stretched and strained but the doctor said in a week or two they should heal.  Someone asked if I lost my religion in all of that and the answer was, “No.”  In fact, the first thing I thought, when I could think, was “thank you, Lord.”  Why? Well, here’s the short list.

First, it was my right hand and for once I was grateful I am left-handed. A lot of what I do involves a pen and a keyboard. So while it was a bit inconvenient it was not life changing. God was good. Second, my late sixties model body still bounces well.  It really could have been a different story. Many a person has had a less dangerous fall than mine and didn’t fare so well. And finally—people.  Judy was there for me and when I got to church and shared some of this during a preaching time (I’m a pastor) so many were concerned.  It’s lovely to be loved.

I had a quote in that morning’s message that said something I needed to hear…and you need to hear.  It goes like this, “Trust [in God] is believing that when everything seems to be falling apart it is actually God arranging things just the way He wants them.” Boom! You see, I am sure God has all kind of good things to teach me through this.  And it made a great sermon illustration and gave me one more “Grits” story.  Thank you, Lord.

As I write this my hand is still sore, it is still bruised, and it is still swollen.  I’ve grown up with mismatched ears and now I have mismatched hands.  Go figure.  If you don’t mind me using an overused verse from the Bible, remember what Paul said in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.” It’s true and He proves it over and over again. Oh, and I think I can tell you with certainty one more thing, one more time.  Write it down, take it to the bank, “He’s got this.”  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, Scripture, thankful, Trials

Dancing with Disaster, part 1

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them.”  Romans 8:28

Houston…we have a problem.  Those famous words…or something like that were first uttered 50 years ago during the Apollo 13 mission.  They are used today whenever there is a problem that needs to be addressed.  As an example, my wife Judy was “glamping” down at the Land Between the Lakes last year.  She pulled out her tennis shoes one morning to realize not only did they not match…they were both for her left foot.  She texted me with a picture and the words, “Houston, we have a problem.”  I laughed, but fifty years ago there was no one laughing.

Apollo 13 was only the third trip to the moon—only the third—but amazingly in that short span of time public interest in the moon missions had dropped to virtually zero.  The launch was a minor story and the news conference from space wasn’t even carried by the networks.  We humans are a fickle bunch.  It is amazing how quickly the extraordinary becomes ordinary…the unbelievable garners a yawn.  That was not only true when we were shooting repeat trips to the moon but also when we worship the God who made the moon.  We yawn our way through everyday miracles because, well, they are every day.  And then something happens that shakes our world.

In the case of Apollo 13 the crew was asked to do a routine stirring of the oxygen tanks.  Certainly, no big deal.  The task fell to the rookie on the team, and he flipped the switch to stir the tanks and what happened next was anything but routine.  There was a massive explosion in a couple of the oxygen tanks which placed the crew’s life in grave danger.  The crew commander instantly snapped at the rookie, “What did you do?”  His first assumption was that it was the rookie’s fault.  It really was no one person’s fault.  There was some faulty wiring in the tank and whoever flipped the switch was going to have the same result—BOOM.

Our routine was certainly disrupted as this COVID and several other things rocked our world.  At the speed of space, craziness jumped from country to country—person to person.  Almost as quick, the finger pointing, and jabbing started and hasn’t even begun to slow down.  From presidents to pastors to everyday people, everyone is looking for someone to blame. The first performance of blaming began in the garden with a couple of rookie sinners, and it has never stopped.  I bet that grieves God—a lot.

Well, things were bleak for Apollo 13 as the explosion damaged the spacecraft to the point where they could possibly die.  This was a good news/bad news deal.  First the bad news—they were blown way off course and only a miracle would get them back on track. That happens in times like these.  Our whole world revolves around one thing—the COVID virus and its cousins.  Concern is a good thing—obsession is a dangerous thing. The only thing worth obsessing over is the One who can do something about it.

Now, the good news—when word began to spread of their catastrophe in space suddenly concern and interest spiked.  In a moment of time, driven by drama and danger, the national interest once again spiked. Spacemen were once again newsworthy. People were once again tuned in and hungry for a miracle—the crew’s survival. I wonder, I hope that there will be good news for us one day too.  I hope that news will be that we once again are focusing on the things that really matter!

There’s a lot more to this story that I would like to share with you tomorrow if you will tune back in.  They say that those who don’t learn from history are destined to repeat it.  I wonder how we will do with that…only time will tell.  It seems that these times are like quicksand—our vocabulary dominated by iffy words like fearful, uncertainty and bleakness.  That is why I am so glad that there is a God who is watching over and working for and through this.  Somehow, someway He is going to bring good from this.  If we let Him, He will make us stronger through this. If that is going to happen then we must let Him be God.  Sounds like a plan to me.  Let’s do the old two step—rest in Him—He’s got this.  See you tomorrow for part two.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, gratitude, life, love, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

Faith

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

It was good…and suddenly it wasn’t. Yup…it was my birthday, and I was on my way to Cracker Barrel to have breakfast with three of my friends…and one of them was buying. It was snowing and the roads were ok but not great. As we neared the restaurant my Apple Watch vibrated and I glanced down and saw three words, “Help, Help, Help.”  Now that will get your attention.  The message was from my oldest granddaughter and moments later was followed by another short message, “I have been in an accident.”  Then for a few minutes things went silent.  While we knew she was on her way to work we had no idea where she was.

The message was sent through our family chat group so soon messages were flying but her end was silent.  We were frightened…we were afraid. A free breakfast suddenly had lost every bit of its appeal.  Only one thing mattered and that was a young lady somewhere that was in trouble.  Well, soon she let us know that she had called 911 and the police and an ambulance were on the way. Through a location service on her phone, we learned where she was, off, literally off, Interstate 57.  Her dad immediately was on the way and after a long, few minutes, was there with her.   Here’s what happened.

She was driving on the Interstate and apparently hit a patch of black ice.  Though going straight, the back of the car began to fishtail, and she went off the side of the road and down a steep embankment.  The journey was well over 100 feet and the car missed several small trees and ended up in a ditch at the bottom.  The airbags deployed and that gave her a mild concussion.  Her left leg was also banged up but amazingly she was ok.  When we later saw the pictures of the path of the car, it was clear that something Divine had happened.  Someone bigger than her was in control that day.

One of the most revealing things in the photo was a large and deep concrete culvert. The truth is if she had been no more than 50 feet further down the road, she would have dove, front end first into this deep culvert and the story would have had a different ending.  God, and I do believe it was Him, that day and in that circumstance administered a large dose of grace that averted a tragic ending.  His ways are mysterious and why her and why then is known only to Him.

Things like this happen all the time with all kinds of different outcomes but one thing remains constant.  For those of us who believe in Him and follow Him it is a moment in the classroom of faith.  It’s one of those constant lessons in life and a school that we never really graduate from.  The Bible says we are to walk by faith, and it also says that without faith it is impossible to please God.  That day God shouted, “Trust me.”  But there is more.  We also learned a little more about gratitude.  You see, I can say that it never occurred to me to ask God, “Why did you allow this?”  No, rather, the only thing that I could say was thank You, not for the accident but watching over her through the accident.  And, honestly, it was because of the accident I discovered again His watch care. Had she arrived at work safety that day, well, I probably wouldn’t have given it a second thought.

Faith and gratitude…two very important cobblestones that we need to learn to navigate this journey called life.  And as we journey, there will be times when it is easy to believe and easy to rejoice and there will be times when it seems impossible.  But remember, He really is a good, good Father and in this broken, fragile world He is still God.  Why he averts somethings while allowing others I don’t have a clue, but I know He is worthy of my trust.  One of my favorite parts of the Bible assures me that He can, He does, bring good even out of bad situations and for that I am grateful. I am still enrolled in the school of faith and one of our class mottos are three incredibly powerful words, “He’s got this.”  And…He does.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, priorities, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, Trials, wisdom

He’s Got This

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

I like love notes.  My wife Judy and I have been married for a long, long time.  Sometimes people ask how it is that we have stayed married to each other for forty-five years.  It could be that I am an incredible husband, but the truth is Judy is an incredible wife.  She is pretty patient with me when I mess up and well, that’s quite frequently. She also has a great servant’s heart.  She is constantly doing the small things that just say, “I love you.”  In that way she is a lot like God.

It always impresses me when God does something really big in my world.  It causes me to just stop and be amazed.  Our lives are filled with stories that show the handiwork of God.  Each one is a love note and each one bears His signature.  Whether it is getting though a particularly hard time or fulfilling a dream, He is always there.  The trick is learning to see it.

Back in 1981, Judy and I were living in Warrensburg, Missouri.  We were attending the First Baptist Church there and having the time of our lives.  God had blessed us with a wonderful group of friends, and we were serving in several ministries there. Two of those involved music.  We were teaching preschool choir (those songs still roll around in my head) and both of us were in the adult choir.  Our worship leader, Dan Tracy, was a great guy and great leader.  Every choir practice and performance were spiritually magical.

One of the things that Dan did was lead a choir tour every spring.  The church would rent a bus for the weekend and our choir would sing at several churches.  In the spring of 1981, Judy and I were brand new parents.  Our first daughter Rebecca had been born that January.  She was obviously too young to leave with a sitter so Judy and I agreed she would stay home, and I would go with the choir.  So, on a Thursday afternoon, she took me to church to leave with the choir.  We were all excited, but I kinda felt bad leaving Judy behind.

Finally, just about everyone was on the bus and it was time to go.  Someone, it may have been Dan, was locking the church door when he happened to hear the phone ringing. For some reason, he stopped and went back inside to answer it.  It really didn’t make a lot of since because it was after hours, and it was a larger church, so people called all the time.   Regardless, he answered the call.  It was for me.

Now before the story goes any further you need to understand that most of our family had no clue what state we lived in.  Most of them probably didn’t know where Missouri was on the map.  Certainly, no one knew we were attending First Baptist and certainly no one knew I was there late on a Thursday afternoon leaving on a choir tour.  Yet the call was for me.  It was Judy’s brother…her father had died suddenly of a heart attack, and we needed to go home immediately to Georgia.

Now pause just a moment and be amazed.  No one knew what church we were attending; it was after hours, and I was moments away from leaving for the tour and someone just happened to hear the phone and answer it. Amazing. It was obviously very hard news but to this day Judy and I both marvel at how our Father orchestrated this.  It was as if He said, “Judy, you have a difficult journey ahead of you but I am putting this together so you will know that I love you and I will walk with you.”  And yes, it was as if He signed it, “Love, Dearest Daddy.”

It was a difficult journey that left us both shocked and surprised. Judy’s daddy had just been with us for Rebecca’s birth and suddenly, he moved to heaven. But even in those sad, heartbroken moments, we knew God was not leaving us to walk through this hard time alone. We trusted that He would show us the way as we walked this new, unplanned path. And He never left us to walk alone.

How about you?  First, I hope you have made the decision to ask God to forgive your sins and be your Father.  It is the greatest and best decision ever. Again, it has nothing to do with religion or church.  It has everything to do with a relationship with the Creator of everything.  Second, if you have done that, I hope you will make it a habit to look and see the handiwork of your Father in everyday life.  He is constantly at work—in the good times and hard times.  He is at work when it is obvious and when it is not.

It is one of those verses that a lot of people throw around, but it is just packed with truth. It says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.”  Now, it doesn’t say that everything is good, but that God can bring good from all circumstances.  God in fact did get us safely through a twenty-three-hour drive to South Georgia with a six-week-old baby girl in the back seat.  God did show us His love through an amazing phone call. And the best part—He does it for each of His kids.  So, snuggle up and rest in Him.  He loves you and He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, food, forgiveness, Grace, gratitude, life, loving others, Scripture, Southern born, Trials

Scars and Souvenirs

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose., I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Romans 8:28

I was probably nine years old when it happened.  If you look at my hands you will see several scars.  Over here is one from an “exacto” knife when I was putting together a car model.  Over there is one from a car accident.  I was riding with my brother-in-law and the car in front of him decided to stop and he decided not to.

There is one on my right thumb—its the one that has been there for the last 55 years.  We were visiting with my Uncle Hardy down near Chiefland, Florida.  He was mom’s brother and the city manager of that small central Florida town.  They had an annual Watermelon Festival that included all the melon you could eat and an opportunity to ride on the back of the city’s garbage truck in the parade.  That was a big deal.  I didn’t get out much.

There are two things that Uncle Hardy had that impacted my life. One was a hairline that didn’t include much hair.  Thanks Uncle Hardy.  The other was a fish camp on the Suwannee River.  It was an old Florida cabin with a tin roof, the kind legends are born from, at least for a nine-year-old.  We would take boat rides, swim in the river, and eat watermelon. And that’s where “a scar was born.”

We were eating watermelon and I picked up a large butcher knife to slice off the watermelon from the rind.  I didn’t have a lot of experience with butcher knives, but I was feeling a little like “Indiana Jones” so I picked it up.  Like I said, I didn’t have a lot of experience, so I began slicing the watermelon pulling the knife toward me and my little nine-year-old hand. My dad saw it and said, “Dewayne.  Be careful with the knife. Don’t pull it toward you—push it away”.

Well, when you are nine and know it all, and you’re feeling like Indiana Jones you don’t listen to your Daddy or common sense. So I kept right on slicing and then it happened.  I got a little too close to my hand and neatly sliced a half-moon cut in my thumb.  Well, so much for Indiana Jones.  There was the usual holler, a bit of tears, a daddy’s “I told you so,” a big bandage, a little embarrassment, and the makings of a scar.

It healed fine, leaving a scar and a gentle reminder.  When you are using a knife don’t pull it toward you…push it away.  Daddy was right.  There is only one scar on my hand from using a knife incorrectly. That is because every time I am tempted to do it wrong, the scar on my right thumb says don’t.  And now the scar has become a sort of souvenir. When I see it I don’t remember the pain, the tears or the embarrassment, I remember the lesson.

How about you?  Have any scars…visible or invisible?  When you see them or think about them, does your mind instantly go back to pain? Do you find yourself constantly living “it” all over again—the hurtful word, the unkind act, the feeling of being rejected or forgotten?  What if we “scar bearers” could remember the lesson instead of the pain? What if we could remember the promise instead of the pain?  Promise?  Yes, the one found in Romans 8:28 “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purposes.” This is a “go to” promise for me because I have a lot of oops, bumps, bruises, and scars.  I’m learning, though, to look at all of that not for the pain they caused, but the good God brought from them.

I’m determined to learn to glean as much as I can from each day.  It’s something I picked up during 2020.  It’s ironic how 2020 means clarity and yet we had so little of it.  But we have a God who can see all things with perfect insight.  So instead of singing the blues, I’m gonna work at turning my scars into souvenirs.  And I’m gonna lay my head down tonight and rest in Him. But there’s more.  I know now my daddy was a lot wiser than I was. He had experience with knives and watermelon.  And my heavenly Father…well, He knows everything, and do you know what?  He’s got this. Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, Grace, life, Scripture, thankful, travel, Trials

Your Expected Wait Time

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

Warning…whining ahead.  Ok, I just wanted to give you a heads up that I am about to whine.  It really isn’t my fault.  I think I was born with it…wired with it.  While most babies cried, I whined.  If the milk wasn’t quite the right temperature…I didn’t cry…I whined.  If it was a quarter past a diaper change…you guessed, I whined.  And if someone failed to realize just how precious I was…whine, whine, whine.  I am so good at it I believe it must be some kind of gift.  I know the Bible talks about people having a special gift from God so who knows…maybe there is a whining gift.  People sometimes say you shouldn’t whine but that is probably because they are jealous.  Whining is an art, a talent but there is a problem.  Nobody seems to appreciate a good whiner.  Someone even gave me a little plaque to hang in my office.  It simply says, “Thou shalt not whine.” Imagine that.

I try to be a good steward of my whining gift and save it for very, special occasions, but the problem is, to me everything day is special and almost every situation an opportunity to practice my gift.  But tonight, tonight it is valid.  Tonight, I have the right to whine…and I have.  Here’s why. So, a couple of months ago, my wife Judy and I planned our fall vacation and decided to go back to Fort Myers, Florida.  It just sounded like a good idea.

We began to make all the appropriate reservations and arrangements.  Car rental…check.  Places to stay…check.  Plane tickets…check.  Yup…we were all set.  And then it happened.  The airline, which I won’t name but whose name starts with a D and ends with an A decided to change our flight schedule.  Hmmm.

We always fly in and out of Evansville because it is so convenient.  As close as it is, it is still about an hour and a half from where we live to the airport.  We had arranged for the return flight to land in the early afternoon.  This is especially important since as a pastor I am supposed to speak the next morning.  It’s always good to have a cushion…just in case. Anyway, here comes the email.  Surprise, surprise, surprise…we have changed your flight from landing at 4:40pm in the afternoon to 9:09pm (yawn) in the evening.  Add an hour and a half drive and it makes 5:00 am come pretty fast.

So, I checked and found out there was indeed a flight that landed at 4:40 pm and there were indeed seats available.  I decided to call the airlines and ask them to fix the problem. I dialed the number and the chirpy voice on the recording assured me that I was a valuable customer (I even had a special number to call) and they would be right with me.  The expected wait time was just four hours.  I’m not kidding, 4:00 hours.  Well, I just knew there had to be another way but after spending an hour trying to find it, I realized there was not one.  Not an email solution, not a wish, or a prayer…nothing, nada.  If I wanted to talk to the nice airline, I would have to stay on the line for four hours.  Can someone say crazy?

Well, rather than stay on the line for four hours (yawn) I decided to spend the time writing a story about it.  I just know all of you out there in grits land will understand and whine with me.  I’m not sure how I’m gonna fix the problem, but I assure you it will not involve me holding on the phone for four hours.  I can also assure you it will involve an appropriate amount of whining.

Now fortunately, not all customer service is as poor as this.  In fact, there is one place where there is no wait, no busy signal and each person is indeed special.  And, where would that be…on God’s hotline.  I love the fact that my Dearest Daddy is never too busy, never too overwhelmed to take my call.  And the best part?  He always makes the right call—pun intended. He is too kind to be mean and too wise to make a mistake.  Even when His way doesn’t match my way, I am sure that it is the best way.  I guess I could ask Him for patience, but I hear the training program for that involves six hour hold times.  Yikes!

Well, I feel better now.  Thanks for reading and understanding.  Who knows, all this might work out for my good…actually, I’m sure it will.  I mean the Bible says, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose,” and I suppose that includes long holds on the phone. Someone (and that would be me) tells everyone that will listen, “He’s got this” and I believe that He does.  I even believe that includes airlines with four hour hold times.  How about that. God bless you!  Bro. Dewayne

Posted in Family, fear, food, gratitude, life, loving others, prayer, Scripture, sovereignty of God, thankful, travel, Trials, wisdom

Steak and Shake

We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

We met when I was just a kid. A long time ago and in a galaxy far, far away (think Star Wars) one of my favorite things to do in the summer was to go and visit my sister and brother-in-law in Daytona Beach.  I lived in Jacksonville and they were kind enough to invite me to spend a week with them.  Trust me…it was like a different world.  Our west Jacksonville neighborhood was half town and half country and the most exciting thing that ever happened was if and when there was a fire call, and we would chase the firetruck.  I’ll write more on that one day.

Now compare that with Daytona Beach.  Can someone say, “Night and day?”  Daytona Beach was a happening place and there was always something to do.  We would drive over to the beach, cruise the strip, and go out to eat.  One of my favorite places to go was Steak and Shake.  Back in the early and mid 60’s, it was not a new establishment, but it was still up and coming.  They were famous for their steak burgers, skinny fries, and milkshakes.  For a ten year old from the westside of Jacksonville, it was heaven.

Steak and Shake was different than most fast-food places.  There, you could actually go inside, be seated and be served, and through the years that is how it has remained.  When I grew up, it was only natural that Steak and Shake was one of my “go to” places to eat.  Oh, it wasn’t an every-week event, but we did go about once a month.  The routine was always the same.  Park, go inside and be seated, order, eat, and leave.  It worked well, but then something called COVID changed things up.  First, and at most locations, you can now only go through the drive-thru.  But in Cookeville, Tennessee we stumbled upon the future—the new Steak and Shake.

At this location, which I am sure will be true for all the rest too, when you walk in, there is not a hostess to seat you and no counter to order at.  Instead, there are several kiosks (computer touch-screens) and from there you can order your food.  Then…you just sit down…wherever you want.  Feel free to go up and get your drinks from the drink station (remember, this wasn’t in Illinois) and finally someone would bellow out your order number and you would walk up and get your food.  Boom—just like that burgers and fries were flying into hungry mouths washed down by delicious milkshakes.  It was new, it was different and I loved it.

I am sure that the COVID mess that we all have disdained is at least partly responsible for their new system, but it also shows that not all the changes are going to be bad.  At our church we are doing Wednesday nights totally different, and it is totally working.  We have a men’s group called “Man Time” (how creative is that); a women’s Bible study (well, not creative but it works) and then something called “The Big A Club” for the kids.  There are people everywhere.  And get this—men are coming to church on a Wednesday night! What?  And it all came about because of the pause that COVID caused.

Someone from ancient times (I’m not talking about 1950!) said the only thing constant is change and they were right.  Some of the changes are not good.  In fact, some of the cultural changes might be considered dangerous.  But we need to work to accept the good and temper the others.  It gives us a great opportunity to be the salt and light that Jesus talked to us about.  People all around us have lots of questions which should lead to lots of opportunities to talk about faith…and Jesus.

Romans 8:28 remains one of the most popular verses in the Bibles.  It says that for those who love God, He can bring good out of every situation.  We sure like to quote that, but I wonder if we are willing to trust it?  Hey, I’ve been writing three small words for a year and some of you have been here for that whole time—“He’s got this.”  So, as things morph around us, let’s be courageous enough to address the dangerous, but flexible enough to embrace the other.  It might not be easy but if He is in control and we trust Him…it’s gonna be fine.  And, can I say it one more time?  He’s got this.  Bro. Dewayne